(Over the next week we will be focusing on seven areas of the mission statement of Immanuel CRC)
"Immanuel Christian Reformed Church
is a multigenerational community of disciples
called by God to utilize our spiritual gifts
by growing in our knowledge of and passion for Jesus Christ,
joining in relationship with others,
and serving God in the renewal of His creation."
Serving God in Renewal - We take seriously the Creation mandate and work to bring things back to the way God created them. We partner with God and others in the restoration of our broken world.
During the summer of 2014 a group from Immanuel traveled to Rehoboth, New Mexico on a mission trip. It was only one of many mission trips people from Immanuel have participated in over the last bunch of summers. Like most of the other trips, the participants in this Rehoboth trip soon learned that while they had gone on the trip to serve others (we worked at a day camp, helped rebuild a home, and served meals to homeless people) we were being served just as much.
There is a mysterious partnership that happens when we talk about service. We often talk about serving others, but that puts us in a strange position of power and authority over others. It brings about the idea that we have things together and others don't so we need to do things for them. Let's be honest, none of us have everything together. When we talk about serving we also need to be very real about the fact that it is only through God's power and gifts that we are able to serve at all. In fact, I have seen groups of students and adults do more work over a week-long mission trip than they had any right doing. The only true explanation is that God's power works through his people in incredible ways.
In a lot of ways the topic that we have been talking about on Sunday mornings for the lat few weeks fits this idea very well. Stewardship. We often talk about this topic in relation to money, but in a real way we are God's stewards of everything. God created the world and everything in it. He created us with the ability to learn and grow and create as well. And God placed us in this world as stewards of his creation. We are caretakers of what God created and what God gave us.
Sin has skewed much of what God created. And we have helped that skewing process more than we care to admit at times. We pollute. We abuse. We destroy. We war. We fail to build up and help. We fail as stewards of God's world, his treasures, his people.
But God is in the renewal business. He is making all things new. And he invites us to partner with him in that renewal--to use what he has given us to strive for what he intended. When we serve others it isn't because we are better than them. Far from it. When we serve this world it isn't because we have all the answers and an ideal picture of what should be. We serve because God is better and because his plan is perfect. He invites us to partner with him. To use what he gave us for the betterment of the world. To seek renewal in his name.
So the question that lays before us is a simple one. How are you seeking God's renewal in this world?